Social media have taken over the Internet. People spend ever more time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others – but many forget (or are not concerned at all) about their privacy. Having presence on Internet ultimately builds a digital identity that is often different than the real person. Because your identity and image could be at stake, I have compiled this checklist to help you protect your privacy while indulging in social media.
- Decide if your digital presence and persona is professional or individual – Having professional content in social media can assist your mission in carrier and business, while over-sharing personal data can trigger opposite effect.
- Be aware of who you are sharing your information with – Customizing your settings in a way that you’re keeping strangers out and only sharing your information, posts and pictures with people in your inner circle goes a long way in protecting your privacy. Most websites will also give you the option to group friends into different categories, each of which gives you the option to limit or edit the kind of information shared. It’s advisable to take advantage of this option when available.
- Remove any traces of yourself from Public Searches – Some websites grant you the ability to keep your profile from being found through a public search engine. If you’d like to remain hidden, look for this option to ensure you activate it. Many can find you easily just by your phone number.
- Opt-out of check-ins – Many websites and apps allow you to check-in to geographic locations. Plenty of users don’t mind this option, while many actually choose to check-in publicly to let others know where they are. Remember however, that when you do tell others where you are, you’re also telling them where you aren’t – at home. Criminals can keep track of your activity to pick a time when you aren’t home and break-in. I recommend not checking in publicly.
- Keep a close eye on social apps – There are plenty of apps which have access to your friends list, posts, pictures and other information. Manually editing the app privacy settings, either within the social website or each app individually on your phone to remove these intrusive permissions will help. I, for example, periodically go through my connected apps and remove the ones I no longer use.
- Limit the amount of personal information you post – Personal information posted on public domains leaves you vulnerable. Abstaining from posting information such as your birth date, physical address among other details will keep away those meddling identity thieves. If you have friends and family posting information about you, ensure that it is information you are comfortable with strangers knowing about and nothing more.
- Be wary of strangers – The internet makes it entirely easy for people to pose as someone they aren’t – misrepresenting their identities and motives. Consider privacy controls which limit the people who are allowed to contact you on social websites. When you interact with people you do not know, be careful with the amount of your personal information you reveal or even agreeing to meet a stranger in person.
What you need to build is a solid social media hygiene, where you are fully in control of how others see you in social media. At the end, you drive the destiny of your digital identity.